Another weekend of rugby with more airtime talking about the bad rather than the good. The talk has mostly been about the tackle, the cards being dished out, and the subsequent fall out. There’s also plenty of talk about the perceived inconsistency on what gets punished and what doesn’t in the tackle; none of the officials want to be the first to break ‘sending off’ records.
The problem isn’t the high tackle. The high tackle is just the side effect; it’s simply an adverse effect of what the game has become. Yes, the injury audits around the tackle have pointed out that it’s the biggest area for injury and we need to do something about it. But the game is going about it in the wrong way.
Look at cause, not effect
It’s a bit like the Americans saying we know gun crime is bad so we better make these special helmets to stop the bullets that cause most of the deaths. You need to look at what factors put the guns in those hands to start with. I know that’s a pretty extreme example but it’s making the point that we are looking at this all the wrong way. Look at cause, not effect. I don’t mean cause in the tackle, I mean in the wider game, the style being played as a result of laws being ignored and conditioning being improved.
Size, speed an skill
We now have bigger players in the game, and they are allowed to utilise that force and power more than ever in the sport. The increase in conditioning knowledge and application also means that clubs are hell bent on producing players that are bigger and stronger. It’s a lot harder to develop skill and speed than it is size. And why bother spend the precious time you have with players on skill if your best chance of winning games is through attrition not ambition?
As a result, attacking teams are able to keep phase after phase of ball based on brawn and blunt force trauma, not guile and technique. This means the game has more front on collisions than ever before. The lawmakers have contributed significantly to this style of game as they have not upheld the laws that are clearly in the law book, written by their predecessors.
See it for what it is
So rewind a little from the actual tackle and look at the steps that have happened to create where we are today. It’s like a plane crash. Not one significant event, rather a number of small errors culminating in a loss of altitude and ‘plane meets ground’. This is what we are now experiencing and pressure needs to be applied to the lawmakers and law enforcers to create an environment that allows us to get back up to the altitude we should be at where we aren’t banging on about nipple-height tackles, dramatic changes in the game, or any of that bollocks, and actually see it for what it is.
Go down in the basement and do something about the foundations. Now!
I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts and comments you have on the above. Please post any comments in the section below. Next blog I’ll discuss some possible solutions to the issues we are facing.